Pat Lam: Bristol appoint Connacht boss from next season on three-year contract
Connacht's Pat Lam will take over as Bristol's head coach from the start of next season following Andy Robinson's exit last month.
The 48-year-old, who led Connacht to the Pro12 title in May, will join Bristol next June on a three-year deal.
Lam recently celebrated his 100th game in charge of the Irish team.
Acting head coach Mark Tainton will remain in charge at Bristol - who are winless in the Premiership - until the end of the season.
"Pat was the outstanding candidate in our search for a new head coach and impressed the board with his coaching ability, experience and enthusiasm for the task ahead," said Bristol chairman Chris Booy.
"We're very pleased to appoint an individual of his quality," added Booy, who also issued his support to the current coaching staff.
"They have done an excellent job so far in instilling some real fight and positivity into the players and we are confident Mark has the ability to keep Bristol in the top flight."
Tainton assumed control after former England and Scotland coach Robinson was sacked as the club's director of rugby in November.
New Zealand-born Lam, a former Samoa captain who also played for Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints, said the decision to leave Connacht after four seasons at the province was one of "the most difficult decisions" of his life.
"The friendships, support and memories we all have experienced throughout our time in the west of Ireland is truly heartfelt and will never be forgotten," he continued.
"I'm committed to Bristol irrespective as to what happens in the short-term - everything is in place for the club to be a force."
Lam will continue in his current role at Connacht until the end of the season.
"Connacht Rugby has made a huge amount of progress over the last number of years, with Pat building on the great work of those who went before him, and we remain extremely confident and excited about the future," said chief executive Willie Ruane.